9. So, where were we…

 Ah yes, Elsie is worrying, Steve is drunk in stilettos, the mad woman at the station is preaching and blowing down a harmonica, and Abel is slowly creeping down a tunnel looking for the opening Steve told him about. His mouth is like a miniature chalk mine, his brain is set on automatic as he touches his way through the darkness to the tune from the Spletzer Martin advert.

Underlondon is a vast place, a maze created by accident, innovation, experiment and deceit. Ancient rivers merge with sewers, wine cellars link with catacombs. Deathly dark, as you’d expect, and as complicated as the city streets above it. Large parts are permanently flooded ankle deep in water. This does not bother it’s inhabitants, who, aside from the terrapins and crocodiles, have built shelves for their beds above the flood level. All their belongings rest on these shelves, from marmite to stolen diamonds, vast platforms made from found timber and steel, scavenged, as their life is, from the above-landers.

Previously:

8. Drunken Delirium
7. Hallucinari
6. Dread
5. Slapdash
4. Eyes in the Machines
3. Underlondon
2. Abel
1. What YOU Need!

6. Dread

An artist's impression of Dread.Dread sat in the corner picking his nose. He was naked. A large man, his skin took on the colour of the shadows in which he sat, altering shades of grey throughout the day, a green tint, a blue tint, a touch of magenta. It could be best described as having that quality you get if you’ve been using watercolour paints but never bother changing the water. You dip the brush in, take it out and splodge it onto the thick pimply surface of the watercolour paper, the result you get is like Dread’s skin.

Abel had been seeing him in the corners for sometime now, particularly at work. At first he’d been afraid, a strange naked man appeared to be following him. No one else seemed to notice though.  He didn’t dare ask people outright,  he knew his colleagues thought him odd already.

He panicked, was this proof of his insanity? Then he came to the conclusion that even if he was mad, he couldn’t afford treatment so probably best  just to keep on as normal and ignore Dread, everything would probably be alright.

Once he tried to talk to him, but Dread is a silent creature, the only noise he makes is a munching sound when he eats from his hands. Abel was not sure what he was eating, it appeared to be light.

Attempts at communication were given up. Gradually though, through some kind of thought osmosis, Abel knew that it was Dread, but dread of what exactly he didn’t know. He briefly mentioned it to Elsie once, but the look of terror in her eyes made him shut up. Still it left what felt like a large hole in his gut, and a churning feeling that made him manic when in public. It didn’t help that his diet now mainly consisted on Spletzer-Martins and alcohol.

After six months of Dread hanging around, Abel was getting used to him. At work in the early hours of the morning Dread was somehow a more comfortable companion than those all seeing, all knowing eyes in the machines.

Next – 7. Hallucinari

Previous –

5. Slapdash

4. Eyes in the Machines

3. Underlondon

2. Abel

1. What YOU Need!

5. Slapdash

Old woman, theatre performer.
Harmonica player outside Baron's Court Station

There’s a woman standing outside Baron’s Court tube station playing, or rather attempting to play, a harmonica. I’ve seen her here before, she hangs out at Baron’s Court Housing project where they do free meals. She wears a wig and theatrical makeup. I thought at first she was a transvestite, like my neighbour Steve who goes to the Coop in stilettos and a mini skirt, but apparently not.

My other slightly more sober neighbour tells me she is an old theatre performer, been out of work for years though, a drinker with mental health issues. “A right care in the community that one” say’s my neighbour “a real special“.

The story goes that she was having medical treatment for a congenital brain disease during the privatisation of the NHS. She could’t afford to continue the treatment with the specialist hospital so ended up going through the Charity Care system. The hack-up job the church hospital did was well meaning but naive and slapdash, her memory was blown to pieces.

This is all just rumours you understand, but she is quite mad!

Still, she stands there at Barons Court station feather bower and all, screaching out lunacy and blowing down that poor old harmonica. The Station manager occasionally moves her along but she’s back the next day. On Sundays she is particularly enthusiastic, her words seem to take on a hell fearing vigor as she denounes the Sunday shopping  public.

Next – 6. Dread

Previous –

1. What YOU need!

2. Abel

3. Underlondon

4. Eyes in the Machines

“Where your eyes don’t go a part of you is hovering”

Watercolour sketch by Jo Fisher Roberts
Where is my mind?

I know you mock me and my slime molds, my quest for some kind of unplanned synchronisation, but there is two of me in this head, and the silent one seems to be seeking other silent ones. Don’t you find theres two of you in that head of yours?

One going rabbity rabbity rabbity, and another silent one that’s controlling you from behind the scenes?

In these words is the rabbitty rabbity one of me, but I know the other is there, slowly guiding what I do with its own secret agenda. Don’t take anything i say very seriously because the other part of me has other thoughts.

Its that part of the brain that deals with this syncing business, it wants it, desires it, gets me to come up with vaguely rational arguments for why I should devote large amounts of time in the pursuit of this ill defined activity.

I think maybe the other part of you is similar, but perhaps you have more say than I do. You are an individual and assert your individuality, so you don’t allow the other you to get in the way?

But sometimes, just sometimes, don’t you get the urge to shut up in your head and find out what the other you gets up to?

It’s dangerous though, where will it lead you?

I know I can’t shut up for long, even in the most religious of auras theres a little voice going “come on Roberts, pull yourself together girl, you’ve still got to take the dog for a walk and hang out the laundry”.

It’s there though, the other me, always there. Watching, waiting, but for what I don’t know.

Aliens – The Hammersmith & City Line

It was after Sexton Ming’s 50th Birthday party, I was sitting on the train in the platform waiting for it to leave, singing the Rude Mechanicals song Aliens to myself.

You see the mice on the tracks, you see them as you wait for your train

You think they’re vermin but they’re not

It was late. There was a man sitting opposite looking at me with a puzzled expression on his face as if to ask what I was doing. I stopped singing and asked him “Do you think this train is going all the way to Hammersmith? Or terminating at Edgware Road?

“Yes” he said with a sly glint in his eye, “its going all the way to Hammersmith. I’m the driver”.

We were silent for a minute, I still had the Aliens song going round in my head

They’re all aliens they’re aliens I’m sure

I hummed under my breath. He looked straight at me.

“Would you like to sit in the front of the train with me? ” he asked.

I was going to say no but something inside urdged me on. Up I got and followed him into the light blue cabin at the front of the train. He checked mirrors, pressed bright lighted buttons, and off we zoomed into the dark tunnels.

Bred by the train company

Fed till they’re big and fat

The stations appeared like small islands springing out of the blackness. They were mainly empty. Lonely looking controllers pressed buttons, grunted, and signalled us onwards. We chatted about his job as a train driver, the night shift, the hours between last train and first train, the appalling fact that the circle line nolonger goes in a circle.

Squeezed all they’re fluid flowing out

“what were you doing tonight?” he asked

“Performing” I said

“Are you in a band?”

“Yes”

“what do you sing about”

“Actually we’ve done a song about the mice on the train tracks and how they might be aliens”

The train jolted slightly. He turned his face to me. It twictched.

” And London Underground know the mice are aliens but they’re….”

“Breeding them so they can use alien juice to power the trains” He finished my sentence.

He knew! It was true!

Cheaper than gasoline

The train was pulling into Hammersmith now. He turned his head back to concentrate on the driving. I clamped my mouth shut tight.

“You are a little mouse like” he said

I said nothing

“I have my car at the station, I’d better drive you home”

The cabin door opened, he moved towards me but before he could grab my arm I’d scrambled down onto the platform.

Hurriedly I gasped “Thankyou but no, I’ve got to walk my dog now”

With that I jolted to the station exit and ran as fast as I could all the way back home.

Stalking part 5. The Knife

Performer naked in mask - Oil painting by Jo Fisher Robers
Watch

The dustbin of The Desired is nearly always a let down, but I did find an old steel knife, 9cm long, amongst potato peel and Kleenex. I hid the knife from Sasha.

A knife can have a funny affect on you. You know what it is capable of,  it knows how weak you are. So on a cold hard night when I couldn’t sleep the knife gave me the idea to sneak out of my family house; the drama to keep me going through the dark pouring rain; the arrogance to wait there in front of his house. It knew me well.

I stood leaning against a roadside tree, watching what I thought was his bedroom. The light was off. I imagined him asleep, I pressed the knife against my hand in my pocket and realized how very alone I was.

I had pretended to know him.  It had been an intense passionate relationship in my head, he was a brave hero who looked after me come what may, in my head, my very own personal Jesus, in my head, but the knife told me it was all a lie. With that lie there were many more lies, friendships evaporated, what was Sasha to me? Or I to her? Who was my brother when he wasn’t with me? Right there standing in the cold rain outside a stranger’s house the knife was my real friend. I knew it was real because it hurt when I pressed it into my flesh. I picked up a chestnut lying on the ground, took the knife and cut into the shell,  it slid open easily, inside it was empty accept for a shriveled old skin. The rain became huge great shards of ice between me and everything else, and I was just a cold shell, hollow and hard.

Action was needed!

Somehow.

I couldn’t have come this far and done nothing. There was meat in that house waiting to be taken. I felt so cold and wet, my mouth watered with the thought of his warm body, the need to clasp hold of it, the need to devour hot red blood fueled flesh. I had a knife in my hand and it felt a strange attraction to his back.

Stalking Part 1

Derek – The End

Today has been a bad head day, and my brain is now all over the place making connexions where their are no connexions. The temptation on these days is to talk about it. I try to avoid having  much to do with people on these days, try to stay in and out of trouble, but sometimes the connexions seem so important its difficult. I just must make contact with…

Today I did some gardening and the plants knew me. Their electric greens and blues crawled inside me. They had a beat to them like a heart. They knew I couldn’t separate myself. I was weak and they were everything. My head clings on to hundreds of half remembered stories, something very very important, but what?

So maybe now is a good time to end the Derek Story, for Derek is very real in many ways and he knows me as the plants did today. I dream of sharing that with another human, but so far, although I have imagined friends have understood,  Derek is the only one who I can be sure really knows.

Have you ever been convinced of something even though you know it will sound like madness to others? Have you ever tried to cling on to your sanity whilst doing some serious tango with the alternative? Knowing for certain that there is something there that is vital to you? People ask me about Derek when they hear the song or the poem, they ask me what he symbolizes. He symbolises nothing. He is Derek. And I have a cunning plan for if he should ever venture down from the loft.

I’ll sit him in front of the TV and feed him on oranges and custard creams, on semilena pudding and rice crispies, on cucumbers and baked beans and mashed potatoes and monster munch and ice cream and apple pie and yogurt and more yogurt and more custard and cheese. I’ll feed him up till he is big and fat and huge. I’ll feed him until he is enormous! Then I’ll squeeze him into the tiny gap underneath my bed, so I can hear him SQUEAL whenever I go to bed at night.

THE END.

Cheshire Cat from Alice in WonderlandPostscript…